According to The Statistics Portal: “As of the fourth quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.32 billion users.” Mark Zuckerberg, the go-to computer programmer on Harvard’s campus, worked with friends to create a social networking site that allowed Harvard students to connect with each other. It was an idea that started within the four walls of a beer littered dorm room, the algorithm for the site drunkenly scrawled across a window. Named ‘The Facebook’, the site would become what billions know today as Facebook (“Drop the “the”, it’s cleaner”). Having launched the site in 2004 and running it from his dorm room , Zuckerberg then relocated to California, by the end of the year the site had already gained 1 million users. This, the incredible story behind the site’s inception, was turned into biopic ‘The Social Network’, directed by the incomparable David Fincher. The main cause for drama surrounding Facebook was that of its authenticity in terms of whether Zuckerberg was actually the one to come up with the initial idea of Facebook. This is where ideas of truth and morality of character come into play as we watch Zuckerberg (played by an astute Jesse Eisenberg) get sued by four different people. Divya Narendra, along with twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss all sued Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea. The twins claimed that they approached Zuckerberg to programme a site for them called ‘HarvardConnection’ that had a very similar layout and proposal to ‘The Facebook’. Despite creating the algorithm for the site, the CFO of ‘The Facebook’ and Zuckerberg’s only friend, Eduardo Saverin, also sued Zuckerberg on account of his shares in the company being diluted to just 0.03%. In this way, The Social Network interrogates the very notion of the lone genius creator. As we have seen time and time again, acts of creation such as this rarely come from just one person’s brain or skillset. Many people, discussions and skillsets are usually needed in order to bring an idea to life. The greatest irony of the film is that Facebook is a site based around friends, yet in claiming to be the site’s sole creator, Zuckerberg lost the only one he had.
“If we are to produce more of a civilized society, it has to be based upon the truth…Every week, we achieve major victories in bringing the unjust to account and helping the just.” – Julian Assange, Founder of WikiLeaks. This documentary outlines the fundamental conflict between freedom of speech and the power and control that political forces have over the public. In the years after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the U.S. government started sharing information between different agencies, meaning that the government was keeping even more secrets from its citizens. The U.S. government expanded its operations to gather secrets on a massive scale, increasing the number of classified documents from 8 million to 76 million. The government also began to intercept phone calls and emails at a rate of 60,000 per second. “Nobody knows how much money is involved, it’s a secret. Not even Congress knows the entire budget.” J. William Leonard, U.S. Govt. “Classification Czar” for the Bush Administration, 200-2008 states: “The whole information environment has radically changed. Just like we produced more information than we ever produced in the history of mankind, we produce more secrets than we’ve ever produced in the history of mankind, and yet we never fundamentally reassessed our ability to control secrets.” This change in behaviour by the U.S. government is what allowed an Army intelligence analyst deployed to eastern Bagdad to steal over 500,000 classified documents on the Iraq war, the Afghan war, as well as State Department documents, exposing corruption, lies, and crimes committed by the U.S and leaking them to the organisation, WikiLeaks. “Exfiltrating possibly the “largest data pillage in American history” was carried out by a man called Bradley Manning, however he now goes by Chelsea Manning. In chat records, Manning states that, “i just… couldn’t let these things stay inside of my head… im just, weird i guess… i … care?” showcasing that he struggled with this decision to leak these government secrets, but felt that the public needed to know the truth and that this deserves to be public information, “information should be free”. Whilst Manning was carrying out the scary and dangerous act of leaking government secrets, he was also struggling with his identity stating, “I don’t know what to call myself”, sexual orientation was easy, he knew he was attracted to men, but he ultimately wanted to live life as a woman. He suffered from several mental breakdowns and had suicidal thoughts. Manning was turned in to the authorities by a known hacker Adrian Lamo, who Manning had reached out to during the time he was downloading the documents and built a relationship with him, he trusted him, but Lamo felt that what he was doing would endanger lives of those on the ground in the war. This resulted in Manning being charged with espionage. However, this didn’t stop the leak from happening. WikiLeaks teamed up with The Guardian, The New York Times and Domscheit- Berg in Berlin to publish the documents with The Guardian journalist who worked on the leaks with Assange, Nick Davies saying: “This was the biggest leak of secret material in the history of this particular planet.” Although these organizations and people published the documents, redaction had to be made in order to conceal identities of people involved in these sorts of criminal and unjust activates, as revealing their names could endanger their lives whilst on the ground in the war. This decision on redactions being made raised the conflict in Assange’s radical approach and the ultimate goal of transparency and accountability, and the ethics of journalism. The Swedish government’s rape allegations against Assange were considered a “smear campaign” and it was alleged that the Swedish government had conspired with the U.S. government in order to charge Assange. With Assange being the primary face of WikiLeaks, thus the primary face responsible for these leaks (as well as Manning when he was turned in) making him a prime target for both the media and also politically. These leaks uncovered frightening and shocking criminal acts committed by people as high up as the President of the United States, Barack Obama, as it revealed that he sanctioned the handing over of prisoners of war, Iraqi detainees, to the Iraqi authorities who the U.S. government knew to torture their detainees. This went against the Geneva Convention, meaning that the President of the United States had committed war crimes. After the State Department documents were leaked, which impacted every relationship the U.S. has with other countries around the world, the U.S. essentially declared war on Julian Assange and Julian Assange alone, labelling him a “blackmail extortionist terrorist”. Although I ultimately agree with the actions of WikiLeaks and their mission to allow all information to be public, the motives that guide Assange’s quest for the supposed “truth”, with a goal of “transparency” and creating a “just” world can be called into question as I often realised whilst watching this documentary that he thrived from the celebrity this gave him, the power, the prestige. He was seen as a God, a hero, powerful by millions of people – and he loved it. Therefore, I wonder if Assange’s ego has become to inflated to the detriment that his initial goal is now void, in his quest for more power, hiding behind WikiLeaks. Journalist James Ball who worked for a time as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks when Assange was underground puts it best by saying: The internet in a digital era lets governments get more information ad more power and more communication than they’ve ever had before. But, it lets citizens do the same. Governments are more powerful and more vulnerable at exactly the same time. The fight on our hands is: Who gets to control the internet? Who gets to control information.” Overall, the limitations that we as the public experience every second of the day from the media and the government is staggering and it is the internet that has allowed these lines to be cleared and for us to be able to see the truth – to have the information that they don’t want us to have.
The disappearance and murder of thirteen-year-old Surrey schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, in March 2002 became a major investigation for Scotland Yard. Newspaper publication, News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch, illegally obtained information regarding the case and the Dowler family including Milly Dowler herself when they hacked into her mobile phone. They listened to all the private voicemails that were left for Milly by her family desperately imploring for Milly to get in touch with them, even going as far to delete some of the earliest ones from the first days of her disappearance, after the mailbox became full, in order to make room for new ones, wanting to source more information. This action gave the Dowler family false hope that Milly was alive, when in fact that unfortunately would be discovered dead, as they concluded that when they found they could leave her voicemails again that she must have been the one to erase the messages. Not only did this cause huge upset for the Dowler family, but it seriously hindered and obscured the police investigation as they already had very few leads to work from, and it destroyed potential evidence for the police to use. It shocks me that News of the World didn’t seem to see any fault in what they had done, in that they committed crimes that were calculated, heartless, and devastating to the Dowler family. This demonstrates the power of the media and how this power and freedom that comes with the press is abused so severely in ways that are so damaging to others, with the deluded thought that these actions don’t have consequences.
There is an air surrounding the media that proposes it is an untouchable entity. There is an ego that comes with the media. We as readers, observers, the public believe what news publications whether in print, on the TV, or online tell us. We are conditioned not only by the information that we are told, but we are conditioned in the manner in which this information is delivered to us with no questions asked. Why is this? Why do we feel confident enough in something that has this much power over how we are supplied with information? There is so much depth to this issue of the media, and in turn the internet, as vast entities that control so much of the public’s knowledge of world events. The News of the World phone hacking scandal is an example of how the media think that they have the right to any information they want, and will break the law to get it, abusing the power that the media provides them. In January 2007, five years after Milly Dowler’s disappearance, News of the World royal editor, Clive Goodman and hacker Glenn Mulcaire are convicted of phone hacking and its editor, Andy Coulson resigns. News International stated at this time that Goodman is a rogue reporter. Come 2011, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup are arrested in connection the Dowler phone hacking and when chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks returns from holiday in the Caribbean, she too gets arrested. The Met Police suggest that there a possible 4,000 targets of hacking and James Murdoch announces that News of the World will close after running for 168 years with its final edition being published on July 10 2011 (See Figure 141). Six days later, Rupert Murdoch issues an apology in a full-page advert saying: “We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.” and later goes on to tell the House of Commons Committee that appearing before it is “the most humbling day of my life”. Brooks resigns and is arrested in relation to the phone hacking and on October 27 2013, the trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others begins. With The Guardian journalist, Nick Davies, writing that Rupert Murdoch’s money “washed through the ‘trial of the century’ like a Rolls-Royce. The story behind the News of the World scandal was not about journalists behaving badly, but the power of money and its abuses”, showcases just how much money supplies power to people in these types of situations when, in fact, they shouldn’t have any at all. In the trial, Andy Coulson was convicted of “conspiring to hack phones while he was editor of News of the World.” Rebekah Brooks was found not guilty of “four charges including conspiring to hack phones when she was editor of the News of the World and making corrupt payments to public officials when she was editor of the Sun. She was also cleared of two charges that she conspired with her former secretary and her husband to conceal evidence from the police investigating phone hacking in 2011.” The fact that Brooks evaded conviction for her clear involvement and deliberate criminal actions, particularly in the Dowler case, astounds me on so many levels. However, although the overall outcome frustrates me to no end, it is not at all surprising due to the influence attached to the mass financial backing she received from Rupert Murdoch.
This is one of the greatest documentaries I have ever seen: a fiercely experimental artwork that pushes the boundaries of the form. The chilling documentary opens with a quote from Voltaire: “All murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets.” These words get to the core of what the film is about: who controls history and the impact that that has on the way in which we remember. Through a series of encounters with some of the men involved, Oppenheimer exposes the horrifying mass executions of accused communists in Indonesia and those who are celebrated in their country for perpetrating the crime. ‘The Act of Killing’ documents the efforts of a group of small-time gangsters in Indonesia to re-enact, through cinematic genres, their roles as executioners in the 1965-66 government-sponsored killings of so-called Communists. The men boast about their involvement in the murders and seize the opportunity to re-create their violent pasts in all their graphic and (in their words) “sadistic” detail. Through these horrifying and bizarre re-enactments, the men begin to engage with the reality of what they have done beyond the celebratory rhetoric Perhaps the most emotionally intense scene of the film is when one of the men plays a purge victim in his movie, is fake-garrotted in the same manner he once giddily employed. Rattled, he softly orders that the scene come to a halt, and seemingly confronts the horror of what he did. Soon afterward, Congo returns to the Medan roof deck, this time in no mood to do the cha-cha. What follows is one of the most jarring wordless sequences ever committed to film, one that features no dialogue but which is far from silent—it contains bursts of terrible noise. In this scene, and in the movie, more broadly, Oppenheimer has captured something remarkable: the rupture between the stories Congo has always told himself and the counter-narrative he’s long held at bay. In ‘The Act of Killing’ the adage ‘the winners write history’ couldn’t be more true. In Indonesia, the winners did indeed write history and through this incredible, experimental piece of filmmaking they found themselves forced to interrogate and confront their memories and the horrific reality of their actions.
‘Hyperobject’ is a term used to describe things that span vast distances of time and space. It is because of this vastness that hyper objects are hard to conceive. “A hyperobject could be a black hole. A hyperobject could be the Lago Agrio oil field in Ecuador, or the Florida Everglades. A hyperobject could be the biosphere, or the Solar System. A hyperobject could be the sum total of all the nuclear materials on Earth; or just the plutonium, or the uranium. A hyperobect could be the very long-lasting product of direct human manufacture, such as Styrofoam or plastic bags, or the sum of all the whirring machinery of capitalism. Hyperobjects, then are “hyper” in relation to some other entity, whether they are directly manufactured by humans or not.” This, is how Morton chose to start his book, with an array of examples of hyperobjects, a term he coined in his first book, ‘The Ecological Thought’. Hyperobjects exist in every aspect of living. Morton introduces the idea of hyperobjects as a way to illustrate their impact on how we think and how we view and perceive the world. He insists that the world is full of so much uncertainty and unknown elements that we live amongst without any real understanding and we must reinvent how we think to even begin to understand the world we live in. “Hyperobjects occupy a high-dimensional phase space that results in their being invisible to humans for stretches of time. And they exhibit their effects ‘interobjectively’; that is, they can be detected in a space that consists of interrelationships between aesthetic properties of objects.” In this way, the internet is a hyperobject. In fact, I would even go as far to argue that, like global warming, it is one of the most dramatic examples of a hyperobject that exists in today’s society. The internet is one of the world’s largest entities, with Seeker’s Trace Dominguez stating that it’s “estimated that Google has only indexed 0.004% of all internet pages”, meaning that 99.996% of the internet isn’t visible to the general public. This 99.996% is known as the ‘Deep Web’, and within that lies the ‘Dark Web’ which is something that we are aware of but users need “specific software, configuration, and authorization” in order to access it. “Hyperobjects have already had a significant impact on human social and psychic space. Hyperobjects are directly responsible for what I call ‘the end of the world’, rendering both denialism and apocalyptic environmentalism obsolete. Hyperobjects have already ushered in a new human phase of ‘hypocrisy, weakness, and lameness’”. The internet holds vast amounts of information and with only 0.004% available for the average human being to access it, is unsettling, unnerving, and raises for many questions. There also a plethora of ways in which the internet itself uses its knowledge and power to manipulate its users, with privacy and conditioning coming into plays and it is imbedded deep within its DNA so we hardly notice it’s even happening. It is this idea of conditioning that I wish to explore in this section of the brief and study the effects of media conditioning and the limitations that are forever persisting in our lives as we seek to source information that we do not know 100% that it exists as we follow what we are told by the internet and the media blindly. More questions need to be asked in order to discover the actual realities of the world and this is what I intend to explore. “Hyperobjects are not just collections, systems, or assemblages of other objects. They are objects in their right, objects in a special sense”.
This academic journal explores the past life regression (PLR), “a posited journeying into past lives, undertaken while the individual is subjected to hypnosis,” and how the theory of reincarnation “may offer an insight into several features of human personality and biology that contemporary theories do not clarify adequately… Alternate explanations proposed for previous life memories include wishful thinking, cultural construction, deception, self deception and paranormal explanations other than reincarnation.” Memory retrieval through hypnosis is a common practise of psychotherapy. The theory of hypnotic regression in order to achieve memory recall is an incredibly powerful and exceptional example of navigating the mind and engaging with cognitive thinking and consciousness. In the TV show, Teen Wolf, the first part of its final season sees three of the main characters undergoing hypnotic regression in search for a memory that holds an emotional connection to the show’s most beloved character, Stiles, who has been taken from the Wild Hunt, thus being erased from reality. It is in this state of consciousness where they regain access to their memories, each memory they unlock regressing them back to reality, thus coaxing the memory of Stiles further to the surface until it bursts through their subconscious and breaks through the dimensional rift of space time to pull him out the Hunt. The ways in which both hypnosis and PLR work in order to regain lost memories is so intriguing but there are complications and possible ramifications that come with the practise in that “hypnosis may increase the confidence with which a memory is held, while reducing the veracity of the memory,” meaning that the therapy can release the “dramatizing powers of the mind” and increase the chances of triggering false memories as hypnosis, as the “imagination runs wild. We have our limitations when it comes to exaggerating truth, but we have apparently inexhaustible powers of imagination as far as stretching a lie is concerned.” can release the “dramatizing powers of the mind”. As shown in my research into myths and legends, the myth of Lethe, meaning oblivion and forgetfulness introduced the idea that in death you can chose to forget all you learnt and experienced in order for your soul to be reincarnated. Past life regression “presupposes a belief in some form of reincarnation” and in the book, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Aetiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects, author Ian Stevenson muses that: “Irrefutably, if reincarnation were to become generally accepted in the future it would be untenable to regard PLR as a pseudo-therapy. Reincarnation is not yet a scientific truth, yet PLR may be considered a useful form of psychotherapy in the appropriate culture when applied correctly, but damaging when abused and misapplied.”
This academic journal explores the presence of confirmation bias in criminal cases and how various elements, primarily media coverage, can have severe influence on how they are “influenced by their initial hypotheses regarding a crime” prior to even hearing arguments from both sides of the investigation, making “judgements that conformed to the hypothesis that had initially been presented to them”. This is known as the term, confirmation bias, which is the tendency to search for, interpret and recall information that confirms a pre-existing belief and hypothesis. This form of cognitive bias can be perpetuated through bias interpretation of the information provided as well as selective information search, meaning to taking parts of the information given in order to support their initial preconceived conception. Remembering information in a way that bends to support your belief is also something that happens in confirmation bias and leads you to overlook critical and key elements that could sway you to view the information differently. This effect is intensified in emotionally charged instances, which is what we see evidenced in the TV show, Teen Wolf, whereby the character Lydia refuses to accept the remote possibility that Stiles may not exist. In this display of confirmation bias, she ignores any information that indicates he doesn’t exist and chooses to favour any shred of ambiguous evidence and lead that reinforces what she already believes to be true, thus propelling her frantic, emotionally charged, desperate search for Stiles ultimately resulting in confirmation of his existence and remembering all the memories she shared with him, releasing him from the Wild Hunt. Confirmation bias can have a detrimental effect to criminal proceedings, as demonstrated in the study carried out by the authors of the academic journal, which is why it is so important to make criminal proceedings always as objective and fair as possible in order to achieve a just result. However, with the rise of the media and the constant and instantaneous stream of information available to the general public, and political influence, this is becoming much harder to achieve. The influence of the media and how we are fed information and how this manipulates our interpretation of events and information is something I would like to explore in this brief.
Nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles is one of physics most fundamental theories known as quantum theory. The innovative research of Schrödinger delves into the deepest recesses of the initial theory of quantum mechanics where he muses that new ideas need to come to the forefront to propel scientific discovery forward. “The disregard for historical connectedness, nay the pride of embarking on new ways of thought, of production and of action, the keen endeavour of shaking off, as it were, the indebtedness to our predecessors, are no doubt a general trend of our time.” Embarking on a study of observation and frequency, Schrödinger deposits that: “This discrete series of frequencies depends on the shape and on the material of the body, its density and elastic properties. It can be computed from the theory of elasticity, from which the existence and the discreteness of proper modes and proper frequencies, and the fact that any possible vibration of that body can be analysed into a superposition of them, are very easily deduced quite generally, i.e. for an elastic body of any shape whatsoever.” The state of superposition is illustrated in the supernatural TV show, Teen Wolf’s sixth season, as it introduces a comparison to the mythological tale of the Wild Hunt. This is due to how the Ghost Riders of the Wild Hunt exist in an alternative dimension. The Wild Hunt therefore stands to be viewed as myth and legend before you see them with your own eyes, thus making their existence a reality: “The principle of superposition not only bridges the gaps between the ‘stationary’ states, and allows, nay compels us, to admit intermediate states without removing the discreteness of the ‘energy levels’ (because they have become proper frequencies); but it completely does away with the prerogative of the stationary states.” This in turn, influences new waves for scientific discovery of theories on things such as alternative universes, which is demonstrated in the narrative of science-fiction TV show, Fringe.
The human psyche’s connection to music is commonly researched promoted as musicology, however it is the connection between music, memory, and emotions that are all intertwined to create such a powerful display of remembering. I have previously studied the impact of music therapy and the magical moments that are created through the use of music therapy in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. This was the subject of the incredible documentary, ‘Alive Inside’, whereby a social worker played patients favourite songs from their past, that held great meaning, on an iPod and they came alive. The emotional connection that was so synonymous with these songs that were so personal to them allowed them to have their identities back, thus enabling them to connect with their reality again as the music memories flowed through them. This academic journal states, “While short-term memories are fleeting, it is theorized that music has the potential to become a long-term memory after just one hearing,” meaning that music and the emotional ties we bond to it in our consciousness with such intensity that upon hearing it our brain instantly makes the connection with the memory and urges the memory forward. This is beautifully illustrated in the emotionally ridden scene in Coco whereby Miguel sings the song “Remember Me” that her father used to sing her as a child to his grandmother, Coco, who suffers from a form of dementia, to remember her father to stop him from being forgotten in the Land of the Dead, thus killing him for the second and final time. The song holds such emotional significance between Coco and her father that the memories surge to the surface and she remembers, allowing him to see her again on the Day of the Dead after so many years.
Teen Wolf Season 6 Part 1. In the first ten episodes of its final season, the show pays homage to its most beloved character, Stiles Stilinksi. After facing some of mythology’s most interesting supernatural creatures and stories, from defeating Alpha werewolves, a dark druid, Berserkers, a Nogistune, and the infamous Beast of Gevaudan, Scott McCall’s pack encounter a new villain: The Wild Hunt. The legend has always been that the Wild Hunt takes people, but creator Jeff Davis, deepened the mythology by making it so that the truth is much worse: they erase people from reality. In the last episodes entitled, “Memory Lost”, we experience Stiles, in a very emotional and intense scene between Lydia and himself, realising that he will be erased and that Lydia must find some way to remember him. Departing with the final words, “Remember I love you”, he is then instantly ripped from their world by the Hunt where he waits in a supernatural limbo, in the form of a train station, in the underworld for the Wild Hunt to move on, ridding Beacon Hills a ghost town and its inhabitants forced to ride the Wild Hunt for eternity. The pack tries desperately to remember Stiles and hit many dead ends which causes some to lose hope that Stiles ever existed. Lydia, however, is adamant of his existence, claiming that whoever he is: “I think I loved him”. Upon many frustrating moments, with the pack getting so close to uncovering traces of Stiles but fall short, hope is restored when they discover a relic he left behind, Roscoe, Stiles’ beloved Jeep that his mother left him when she died of Frontotemporal Dementia when he was ten. Scientific theories and concepts are used to strengthen the narrative of the plot, with the analogy of ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’ whereby quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger leaves poisonous food in a box with a cat, that is being taught in a science class. It demonstrates the theory of quantum superposition – light is both a particle and a wave until it is observed, just as the “cat” is both alive and dead until someone opens the box. The concept opens the door to the many-worlds interpretation and alternate dimensions, which mirrors that of the Wild Hunt as they remain invisible solely existing in their own dimension until they make themselves visible to the next person or people they will take, “Those who see the Wild Hunt beware, for you are already lost.” Another theory presented is that of confirmation bias – the tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms an existing preconception. Lydia’s mother expresses concern that Lydia is looking for proof for what she already believes is true because she wants it to be true as she refuses to accept any information that negates Stiles’ existence. The emotional connection that she and Stiles share only makes the belief that Stiles is real that much stronger to Lydia, thus propelling her forward with one goal: to remember Stiles. With the souls of almost the entire town being claimed by the Wild Hunt, the pack fight to break Stiles out of the Hunt, which can only be achieved by opening the supernatural rift into the other dimension. In an incredibly powerful and emotionally charged scene, Stiles’ dad (Noah), discovers Stiles’ room which had been sealed off by the Hunt after he was taken. With Lydia revealing Stiles lacrosse jersey to him, he then starts to believe it’s true: he had a son. No, he has a son. He starts to trace the room when a ball of red string and some pins appear on a shelf, the string Stiles uses for his crime board when trying to solve the next mystery. As he starts to map out the room with the red string, more and more of Stiles’ room is revealed until it is exactly how he left it. It is then that all the memories come flooding back and he remembers, causing a momentary tear in the rift where he sees Stiles before it quickly disappears. This discovery launches Scott, Malia and Lydia to undergo hypnotic regression so they can remember Stiles and break through the rift. One by one, they experience their memories of Stiles, searching for those where they made an emotional connection with him. Ultimately, it is Lydia who breaks through upon realising that she is in love with Stiles and that she never said it back before he was taken, stating that when she kissed him a year ago, “that’s when it all changed”. This is an amazing display of how memory and the act of remembering has the power to transcend beyond anything. It is what makes up our reality. It is what makes us who we are.